It was a normal workday for a few NorVal employees on their way back from an annual meeting in Circle. As they continued along Hwy. 24 heading towards Fort Peck on Friday, June 6, they saw a few vehicles stopped in the middle of the road, near mile marker 22 in McCone County.
What they discovered possibly saved lives of the two people involved in the accident they discovered. But that accident had a twist that ended up discovering a missing person from Rapid City, S.D.
They couldn't initially see an accident, but something didn't look quite right around 3:20 p.m. Craig Herbert, manager for NorVal Electric Co-Op, stopped and asked if everything was all right. At that moment it was apparent there was a girl on the side of the road with severe injuries. She had climbed up the steep embankment where the car in which she was a passenger had gone down. The female appeared to have a very severe injury to her foot. The driver still sat below near the car.
Herbert and Leila Seyfert, an employee of NorVal, sprang into action with David and Kerry Lee Knierim, who had also stopped to help with another man. The five who stopped called for help on a cell phone and tried to keep the victims in the accident calm.
Herbertstarted controlling traffic around the scene.
“It was amazing,” he said. “A road where there's usually no traffic, all of a sudden there was a lot of traffic.”
He explained that there were two fishing tournaments going on over the weekend that may have drawn more out to the area. He directed traffic until the scene was clear. Meanwhile, Seyfert was the first to climb down the steep side towards the car. When she reached the man at the bottom, it was apparent that he had some severe injuries.
“Everything happened so fast and so slow at the same time,” Seyfert said.
The man asked for water, but she determined she couldn't safely move him from the scene without further injury. She also thought the car wasn't in danger of catching fire. There was no gas leaking or sparks. Initially the two involved in the accident claimed that they had been there for days and that there was another individual missing from the scene, a possible driver.
Seyfert said she kept the man calm and explained to him what was going to happen and tried to keep him coherent until help arrived.
McCone County Deputy Paul Skyberg later arrived on the scene. He headed down the side to help out Seyfert. Only a few minutes later, Trooper Mitchell Willett arrived to the scene and began his investigation.
What started out as a severe accident soon became a different story. Willet said that there wasn't evidence to support the accident happening a few days prior. He said that he believed the accident had probably happened earlier in the day.
“Speed, alcohol and drugs were not involved in this accident,” Willet said. “It was a distracted driver that went off the right side of the road.”
An ambulance from McCone County and an ambulance from Glasgow transported the patients to Frances Deaconess Memorial Hospital, from where they were flown to Billings. Willett said that the male, 24, and the female, 14, were listed as serious but stable.
While the patients were transported, Willet continued his investigation and said that the vehicle went airborne and landed in the creek bottoms on large rocks and boulders. He confirmed that the juvenile female was listed as a missing person from Rapid City. He could not give details on the nature of her disappearance. He said that the male, from Rapid City, was being charged with careless driving with serious injury, driving without a driver's license, not wearing a seatbelt and obstructing a peace officer. His name was not released as the investigation continued.
Willett said that the mother of the juvenile was now with her in Billings. Possible charges could be pending related to other incidents that took place in South Dakota. Willett thanked the five individuals who showed up and helped at the scene.
“I greatly appreciated the help from the public until the other responders showed up,” Willett said.